The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 20, 2013

How a rift between Westmont and Southmont Boroughs could be eased by a recreation audit

— Partners in the Westmont Hilltop Recreation Commission feel they are on their way to easing tensions and answering calls for more financial accountability.

Southmont Borough Council’s requirement that the commission provide a full audit report in order to receive the borough’s continued financial support created some friction earlier this year.

Commission leaders balked at the audit’s estimated $5,000 price tag, saying its books were maintained by a certified public account.

But Southmont council members require audit reports from all organizations receiving tax-funded allocations.

Without an audit report, the borough threatened to withhold its $11,300 allocation and nearly $4,000 of “in-kind services,” effectively dropping out of the commission.

Westmont Hilltop Recreation Commission is a collaboration of Southmont and Westmont boroughs, Upper Yoder Township and Westmont Hilltop School District.

Borough Councilman William Kory represents Southmont on the commission board. He told Southmont council at its meeting Monday that he approached the other commission members individually at that organization’s July meeting to gauge support for the audit request.

“They have absolutely no problem with the audit being done for the recreation commission and bringing that back to the municipalities,” Kory reported.

He said he asked each representative to ask the supporting organizations for feedback on the audit and also about splitting the cost – now estimated at $800 for each agency.

The commission is ready to have the audit done, he said.

“If that’s the stumbling block, that issue has been solved,” Kory said.

The school district agreed that an audit should be done, but at the commission’s expense, Westmont Hilltop school board representative Michele Trevorrow said.

Stressing that she was not at the council meeting to represent the school board, Trevorrow said commission members have agreed to have the books audited, but are waiting to hear if any of the supporting agencies will help cover the cost.

“As a resident of Southmont, I’d like to see Southmont stay as part of the recreation commission,” Trevorrow said. “We are working very hard to make it bigger and stronger.”

Some commission members initially felt “bullied” by Southmont’s request, which was perceived as an ultimatum.

“There was some miscommunication along the way – not by council members,” Trevorrow said. “But calmer heads prevailed. This is a community thing. We all need to work together.”

Southmont’s participation is important, commission director Fran Lustig Sivi said.

Sivi told council she is working on a 501(c)(3) official non-profit designation for the commission, making it eligible for more outside funding. The federal designation is expected later this year and will require annual audits.  

Randy Griffith covers Southmont for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

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